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Theology describes our understanding of Christian doctrines we have gathered from surveying the whole bible on specific topics. Fore example, what does the Bible as a whole say about humanity. Understanding theology supports a healthy view of God, yourself, and the world

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YOUR IDENTITY---YOUR VOICE---WHAT?

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

I'm probably going to say a few things you may not like. You might want to turn away now. As you can see the title captures those catch phrases bouncing around everywhere right now. They're suppose to inspire people to own who they are and to speak up for?.....well, that is complicated, isn't it? But what does it "our identity," mean? Really? What are we, as Christians, to make of "identity" and "our voice?" In short, who are we fundamentally and what should our voices echo? Moreover, how are we suppose to talk with others who come to us asking questions about such things? Let's consider a few things as we begin.


First, from where are these messages originating? Second, what are these messages encouraging you to do? And, third, how do they (identity & voice) fit into our Christian world-view?


YOUR IDENTITY


First, we see this message of owning your identity is a central theme of our American culture right now. You really see this message filtering down into every fabric of the media and even into our Christian communities. Books are being written about these, lectures are being delivered, graduation speeches are littered with this message. While the conversation of human identity has been around as long as humanity itself, the present conversation about identity, at least on the popular level, has to do with one's pursuit of happiness, individuality, and autonomy. This is not the way the Bible talks about identity nor does it fit into the Christian world-view very well.


Second, what is this message seeking to activate in you? Well, it seems pretty clear this message is meant to encourage you to do what you feel like doing. Do things that make you happy, accentuates your individuality, and gives you a sense of fulfillment. One's identity then, is decided by the person and is somehow associated to what they do to "feel" happy (various activities make various people happy.) Notice that feelings are central to this framework and becomes the arbiter of truth. Eventually, many categories such as morality, purpose, and meaning of life, gather underneath this umbrella and soon it becomes the only reality from which to function in living life. The Bible has a different grid by which to live ones life. It includes things like—your responsibilities, principles, or commitments to others and God. Namely, the umbrella by which previous categories gather is....love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. These are called the Great commandments. Hence, we can surmise that our identity is somehow connected to God and to others and is not merely a decision we choose.


Third, our Christian world-view has traditionally been dictated fundamentally by the Bible and the community of believers (historical believers and present believers.) These are the things that tutor us in how to understand God and ourselves. Much ink has been spilled by great and godly thinkers and preachers, about the nature of human beings and their rightful response to their Creator. So, should we now begin to sit in the pew's of our culture and allow it's sermons to tell us what our identity is or how we should use our voices? Do they have a better message than the Gospel of Christ? Indeed not. Theirs is a gospel of autonomy from other and from God. The Bible, not only serves to tell us who God is, who we are, and what our responses should be to this but it also serves to help us detect deceptive messages that can lead God's people astray. Deception is a keen weapon of the Devil. It works best if one first, does not even believe there is an Enemy of God and secondly, if the message sounds so compassionate and encouraging. Every message that is full of compassion, love, support of others is bound to be the right message and even a message from God, right? Wrong! We can have compassion for, love for, and support of people but if they are going down a dangerous path then that only makes us enablers. God's word tells us to, "test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1.)


Fill in the blank....I am ____________. I wish I could white-out this paragraph so you could really think about what to place in that space. "I am a mother, father, doctor, fun-spirit, teacher, student...." Well, if you're a Christian you would probably push that to the top of the list. For others, they may say "I am gay," or any of the LGBTQ options. Still others, may identify as "I am a loser," "waste of space," "nothing."


IDENTITY DEFINED


First, we must understand that on a fundamental level, our identity consists of the Imago Dei, or the image of God. All humanity posses this. Every person, everywhere, throughout every age. God gave this to us in the very beginning and it is what actually assigns us worth (Genesis 1:26.) I could write a lot on this but do not have room here. Second, if you are a Christian then your identity centers around Christ. You are a Christ-follower. Your are a disciple of Christ. Your world revolves around Him. These two identity markers make up our purpose and meaning in life. Our purpose is to know God and become more like Christ and our meaning is that journey which interfaces with all our character, our decisions, life choices, and how we engage others. This is our identity. Your true self is the one which is realized in relationship with God , not the one you seek to actualize through gratifying your desires. Often, people experience "identity" crises because they find themselves in reality they did not anticipate which is foreign to the way they have understood themselves in their lived experiences. This can happen to a women who has spent much of 20's and 30's as a single-career-oriented women and finds herself married and quickly with two children to care for. She begins to think, "who am I." Or for a man who has built his life around his career and has retired. We think of ourselves, our identity, in relation to what brings us satisfaction because we continually do what makes us happy. So, our identity becomes what we continually do. Recall the Bible never tells us to seek autonomy from God nor encourages us to find the "real" us. It tells us things like ....to lay down our life for others... to die to self (Luke 9:23.). This is the lesser self of you because the true self/you is more fully realize when you are connected to God. Indulging a self apart from God, leads only to sin which destroys many aspects of your life and damages your relationship with others and Christ. The Bible never tells us to work to"be the best version of our self." It tells us to, "put off the old self and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:22-24.)


YOUR VOICE


Second, what about letting people "hear your voice." There is something to be said in using your voice to help the less fortunate or to be an advocate for those who cannot be for themselves, like children and the mentally ill. The Bible does tell us to help those who are suffering under oppression and injustices, like the sex trafficked children around the world are suffering. Our voices are meant to also share the gospel message with others as well. To speak the way Christ spoke. In our world of political tensions, social unrest, and spiritual decay we as Christians cannot make the mistake of pushing political agendas with our voices conflating that with God's kingdom or will. We cannot assume that everything that sounds like compassion should be taken up with our voices. Our first allegiance is to Christ. To be peacemakers. To possess the spirit of Christ.


Lastly, we should think of ourselves soberly.On the one hand, if we feel bad about ourselves we should check to see if we are doing things that afflict our conscience or quenches the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.) We will be down on ourselves if we compromise ourselves with works of the flesh (Galatians 5.) We also can be down on ourselves if we are consumed with what others think of us. If we desire approval of others and do not meet their expectation then we will feel bad. Only seek to meet the expectation that is tethered to your responsibilities and to your relationship with God. On the other hand, you should consider that God put you together (Psalm 139). You have a purpose in living. Your purpose is to glorify God in all you do. He also has works for you to complete (Eph. 5:10.) You have great worth to Him. Your life makes a difference in those around you whether you realize it or not. Your actions make a differences in the world. These considerations should not encourage naval gazing. Remember people like Jeremiah was instructed by God to say and do things that would not even be heeded by His people. Jesus at the time looked as if He died for nothing. So don’t put a lot stock into “your calling,” or importance in the Kingdom of God. It’s about Christ. It’s always been about Him. One of my favorite quotes is, “preach the gospel and die.”


Seek your identity in Christ. Use your voice for His Kingdom. Do not be deceived by the world or its messages. Don’t spend much time thinking about yourself. Oh yea also-preach the gospel (live the gospel) and die.


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